Ganapati is the first and foremost Devata of worship in Sanatana Dharma. Shri Parameshwara has conferred on him the status of being worshipped first for removal of obstacles when any new action is undertaken. Shiva himself became the victim of Ganapati’s anger, when he missed worshipping him at the time he started off to conquer Tripuras. Shiva then offered Puja to Ganapati; the pleased Ganapati taught Ganapati Sahasranama Stotra to Shiva. Ganapati is the most popular deity in our pantheon of Devatas. He is always adored by one and all with faith and love. Ganapati presides over the foundational Mooladhara chakra in the human body, representing Prithvi Tattva. He stands as a towering example of Tyaga. He broke his beautiful tusk for writing Mahabharatam as dictated by Bhagavan Veda Vyasa. In Kashi he came as Dhundhi Ganapati, looking for Brahma, Surya, Yoginis and other Devatas who had been despatched to Kashi by Shiva from Mandara Mountain. Along with Vishnu, he accomplished the task of getting Shiva (Viswanatha) back to Kashi after King Divodasa left for Kailasa. Shiva praised him for his cleverness (Kashi Khandam, Skanda Purana).
“अन्वेषणे ढुढिरयं प्रथितोस्ति धातुः सर्वार्थढुंढितया तव ढुंढिनाम । काशीप्रवेशमपि को लभतेत्र देही तोषं विना तव विनायक ढुंढिराज ॥“(18.104.22.168)
“The root ‘ढुढ् ‘means ‘to search’. You are now ‘ढुंढि ‘because you search for fulfilment of all the wishes of devotees. O Vinayaka, O Dhundhiraja, without pleasing you, which jiva here on earth can enter Kashi?” Shiva then goes on to say,
ढुण्ढे प्रणम्य पुरतस्तव पादपद्मं यो मां नमस्यति पुमान् इह काशिवासी ।
तत्कर्णमूलमधिगम्य पुरा दिशामि तत्किञ्चिदत्र न पुनर्भवतास्ति येन ॥ (22.214.171.124)
“One who first worships your lotus feet and then worships me- I whisper into his ears at the time of his death that mantra which enables him to never return to this samsara”.
Ganapati Atharvasirsham proclaims Ganapati as Paramatmasvarupa, the creator, sustainer and destroyer of the universe. Puranas describe his abode as Svanada bhavana, the mansion of Bliss of Self.
Ganapati Homa is a common feature in all Vaidika observances in the family from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. Prayer is offered to Ganapati by offering Ahutis with Modaka and his other favourite Naivedyas to the chant of the powerful Moola Mantra of Ganapati. Modaka, meaning provider of bliss, pleases Ganapati, who confers on the devotee bliss of different grades, Moda, Aamoda, Pramoda, Samoda and Vimoda, which are Ganapati’s own forms out of the 56 forms he took in Kashi. Ganapati Atharvasirsham states: यो मोदकसहस्रेण यजति स वाञ्छितफलमवाप्नोति । “One, who performs Homa of Ganapati with a thousand Modakas, attains the fruit of all his desires.” Needless to say, pleasing Ganapati with a lakh of Modakas in Laksha Modaka Homa will certainly lead to fulfilment of all desires, but also to universal wellbeing and happiness.
The glory of Shri Rudram is sung in the Srutis, Smritis, the Puranas and the Mahabharata. Shri Rudram consists of 11 Anuvakas (stanzas). Shri Rudra or Shiva is pacified through praise and prayer in the first Anuvaka. Anuvakas 2 through 9 propitiate the Lord by chanting names that evoke His attributes of omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience. The special feature here is the way the three hundred names of Shri Parameswara are woven in twos or threes with ‘Namah’ before and after the names, thus giving the name of ‘Namakam’ to Shri Rudram. The 10th Anuvaka consists of prayers seeking favourable treatment. The 11th offers salutations to the innumerable Rudra Ganas. This is followed by Mahamrityunjaya Mantra, also known as Triyambaka Mantra, a prayer to the three-eyed Shiva, seeking protection from death and to remain steadfast on the path to Liberation.
Shri Rudradhyaya occurs in the fifth Prasna of the fourth Kanda of Krishna Yajurveda and the celebrated Panchakshari Mantra, Namah Shivaya, occurs in the middle of Shri Rudram in the 8th Anuvaka. Shri Rudram is also called by several other names: Shatarudriyam, Rudropanishad, Rudradhyayam, Namakam. As Shri Rudram occurs in more than a hundred branches (Shakhas) of Vedas, it is called Shatarudriyam. As it is considered to be the essence of many Veda Shakhas gathered in one place and as it bestows the highest Purushartha, Mukti, it is called Rudropanishad.
It is certain that through the grace of the Supreme Lord, pleased with this prayer, one can attain all fruits required in the human birth – Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha.
Veda itself says: “रुद्राध्यायी मुच्यते सर्वपापैः; यः शतरुद्रीयं अधीते सोऽग्निपूतो भवति; संसारार्णवतारणम्”; “One who chants Shri Rudram is freed of all sins; he is purified as if by Agni; Shri Rudram enables crossing of the ocean of Samsara (cycle of birth and death).” Sutasamhita says: वृक्षस्य मूलसेकेन शाखाः पुष्प्यन्ति वै यथा । शिवे रुद्रजपात्प्रीते प्रीता एवास्य देवताः ॥ “Just as watering the roots of a tree results in healthy growth of branches, flowers etc., so also when Shiva is pleased with the chant of Shri Rudram, all Devatas are pleased.”
Rudraikadashini is chanting of Shri Rudram 11 times by 11 Ritwiks, with Chamakam being completed once. Maharudram is chanting of Shri Rudram 11 times by 11 Ganas of 11 Ritwiks each, thus totalling 11*11*11=1331times. Atirudram is equal to 11 Maharudrams; hence the chant of Shri Rudra mantras is 11*1331 = 14641 times; this is spread over a certain number of days. Each day Shri Rudra Homam is performed with 12 Ritwiks chanting Shri Rudram 11 times and offering oblations, with Vasordhara with Chamaka mantras; the total Ahutis spread over several days is one-tenth the Japa count, viz. 1465 times.
Maharudram is hailed as the greatest Prayaschitta (expiation) of even the worst of sins. “महारुद्रं प्रकुर्वीत महापातकनाशनम्”. The combined Japa, Abhisheka, Pooja and Homa by so many Ritwiks simultaneously to Shri Parameswara’s 11 forms – Mahadeva, Shiva, Rudra, Shankara, Nilalohita, Ishana, Vijaya, Bhima, Devadeva, Bhavodbhava and Adityatmaka Rudra- purifies the atmosphere and leads to universal peace and wellbeing.
Sahasra Chandi Homa
Chandi or Durga Saptashati or Devi Mahatmyam occurs in Markandeya Purana, spread over 700 verses in 13 chapters. It recounts three important stories of victory of Devi Durga in wars with Asuras, the annihilation of Madhu-Kaitabha by Mahakali, Mahishasura by Mahalakshmi and Shumbha-Nishumbha by Maha Saraswathi. In the background it covers the anecdote of king Suratha and vaisya Samadhi, who, in their moment of nadir of depression after losing everything, were advised by Sage Medhas to do Parayana of Chandi and worship Devi. After three years of concentrated adoration, they earned the compassion of Devi; Suratha became king again and was blessed with the position of Manu in the next Manvantara; Samadhi was blessed with the ultimate Jnana. Chandi contains many beautiful Stotras of Devi.
विद्या: समस्तास्तव देवि भेदा: स्त्रिय: समस्ता: सकला जगत्सु।
त्वयैकया पूरितमम्बयैतत् का ते स्तुति: स्तव्यपरापरोक्ति :॥
“All Vidyas are parts of yours; all women in all worlds are also your forms indeed. Mother, the whole world is filled by you alone; you are beyond objects of praise – the ones beyond and within the ken of speech; you are indeed speech; how then to praise you?”
रोगानशेषानपहंसि तुष्टा रुष्टा तु कामान् सकलानभीष्टान् ।
त्वामाश्रितानां न विपन्नराणां त्वामाश्रिता ह्याश्रयतां प्रयान्ति।।
“Devi! When you are pleased, you relieve us of all diseases completely; when you are angry, you take away all that is desired. For those who have taken refuge in you, there is no danger; further, they themselves become seats of refuge for others in distress.”
A very impressive Phalashruti is recounted by Devi herself. The devotee is assured of protection from all evil and inimical forces and attainment of wholesome mundane and spiritual wellbeing.
Chandi Homa is one of the most powerful methods of worshipping Devi. Ahuti is offered to Devi in Agni with chant of all the 700 verses of Chandi. Poornahuti is offered at the close of each of the 13 chapters of Chandi. This is preceded by elaborate rituals of Japa of Chandi and various other mantras including Ratri Sukta and Ahuti with Navakshari Moola mantra. The Main Homa is concluded with Japa, offerings of various Naivedyas, vastras, garlands, ornaments etc. and Vasordhara with chant of Devi Sukta. When Japa of Chandi mantras is done nine times, it is called Nava Chandi; when Japa is done a hundred times, it is known as Shata Chandi; when Japa is done a thousand times, it is called Sahasra Chandi. In Sahasra Chandi, Ahuti in Agni is done one-tenth the number of Japa chants, i.e. 100 times. A number of Ritwiks do the chanting and Homa over a number of days and complete the process. Tarpana, again one-tenth of Homa, i.e. 10 times and Marjana are also done.
by Sri P.R. Kannan, Mumbai